News from Hell

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
News from Hell  (1606) 
by Thomas Dekker

Later appeared in 1607 as A Knights Conjuring. Done in Earnest: discovered in Jest.
Text from

Beyond all these places is there a Grove, which stands by it selfe like an Iland; for a streame (that makes musicke in the running) claspts it round about like a hoope girdle of christall: Lawrells grew so thicke on all the bankes of it, that lightning it selfe, if it came thither, hath no power to pierce through them. It seemes (without) a desolate and unfrequented wood, (for those within are retyrde into themselves) but from them came forth such harmonious sounds, that birdes build nests onely in the trees there, to teach Tunes to their young ones prettily. This is called The Grove of Bay Trees, and to this Consort-Rome, resort none but the children of Phoebus, (Poets and Musitions:) the one creates the ditty, and gives it the life or number, the other lends it voyce, and makes it speake musicke. When these happy Spirits sit asunder, their bodies are like so many Starres, and when they joyne togither in severall troopes, they shew like so many heavenly Constellations. Full of pleasant Bowers and queint Arboures is all this Walke. In one of which, old Chaucer, reverend for prioritie, blythe in cheare, buxsome in his speeches, and benigne in his haviour, is circled a round with all the Makers or Poets of his time, their hands leaning on one anothers shoulders, and their eyes fixt seriously upon his, whilst their eares are all tied to his tongue, by the golden chaines of his Numbers; for here (like Evanders mother) they spake all in verse: no Attick eloquence is so sweete: their language is so pleasing to the goddes, that they utter their Oracles in none other. Grave Spencer was no sooner entred into this Chappell of Apollo, but these elder Fathers of the divine Furie, gave him a Lawrel and sung his Welcome: Chaucer call'de him his Sonne, and plac'de him at his right hand. All of them (at a signe given by the whole Quire of the Muses that brought him thither,) closing up their lippes in silence, and tuning all their eares for attention, to heare him sing out the rest of his Fayrie Queenes praises.

In another companie sat learned Watson, industrious Kyd, ingenious Atchlow, and (tho hee had bene a Player, molded out of their pennes) yet because he had bene their Lover, and a Register to the Muses, Inimitable Bentley: these were likewise carowsing to one another at the holy well, some of them singing Paeans to Apollo, som of them Hymnes to the rest of the Goddes, whil'st Marlow, Greene, and Peele had got under the shades of a large vyne, laughing to see Nash (that was but newly come to their Colledge,) still haunted with the sharpe and Satyricall spirit that followd him heere upon earth: for Nash inveyed bitterly (as he had wont to do) against dry-fisted Patrons, accusing them of his untimely death, because if they had given his Muse that cherishment which shee most worthily deserved, hee had fed to his dying day on fat Capons, burnt sack and Suger, and not so desperately have ventur'de his life, and shortend his dayes by keeping company with pickle herrings: the rest ask't him what newes in the world, hee told them that Barbarisme was now growne to bee an Epidemiall disease, and more common then the tooth-ache: being demaunded how Poets and Players agreed now, troth sayes hee, As Phisitions and patients agree, for the patient loves his Doctor no longer then till hee get his health, and the Player loves a Poet, so long as the sicknesse lyes in the two-penie gallery when none will come into it: Nay (sayes he) into so lowe a miserie (if not contempt,) is the sacred Arte of Poesie falne, that tho a wryter (who is worthy to sit at the table of the Sunne,) wast his braines, to earne applause from the more worthie Spirits, yet when he has done his best, hee workes but like Ocnus, that makes ropes in hell; for as hee twists, an Asse stands by and bites them in sunder, and that Asse is no other than the Audience with hard hands. He had no sooner spoken this, but in comes Chettle sweating and blowing, by reason of his fatnes, to welcome whom, because hee was of olde acquaintance, all rose up, and fell presentlie on their knees, to drinck a health to all the Lovers of Hellicon: in dooing which, they made such a mad noyse, that all this Conjuring which is past, (beeing but a dreame,) I suddenlie started up, and am now awake.

[sigs K4-Lv]

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.